About Visualizing Systems

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Data permeates our lives. Smartphones, the internet, consumer data tracking, and advanced logistics have ensured that data about people and their habits is voluminous and easily accessible. However, the sheer volume of data that is produced on a daily basis is often so overwhelming. How can we harness the power of clear visualization to meaningfully imbue data into efforts to improve the built environment?

Visualizing Systems presents a selection of the most important visualizations and mappings of the human environment—both historic and contemporary. The collection considers the three-dimensional world—and the spatial, material, and temporal complexities that come with it—in order to document visual language that balances quantitative rigor and scientific methodology with tangible experiential descriptions of the groundplane as seen at eye level.

In addition to serving as an extended, catalogued repository for the examples featured in the book, the site encourages community uploads in order to foster discussion and serve as a testing ground for visual case studies that exemplify the spatial potential of data and visualization in the design fields. How does the display of data and information differ for the design professions? What are the relationships between cities and their ecological contexts? How do water, weather, plants, animals, geology, climate, etc. affect the built environment, and vice versa? How can we harness the increasing power and availability of big data to map and track the relationships between urban and ecological systems, nature and culture, and landscape and infrastructure, in a way that is not only BEAUTIFUL, but also PRECISE and CONCISE?

And most importantly, how can the creation of clear and concise visualizations that explain a complex and changing world help to confer a new legitimacy to architects, landscape architects, and planners as they aim to carve out more prominent roles as policy makers?

 

About Andrea Hansen

Andrea Hansen is a Lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she has taught studios, seminars, and an advanced course in landscape representation for the last three years. In addition to her teaching and work on Visualizing Systems, Andrea’s current research and writing focus on landscape infrastructure strategies for deindustrialized cities and the development of mapping and visualization tools that link GIS, social media, and other web-based maps applications.

Andrea holds a Master of Landscape Architecture and a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, where she was the recipient of several awards including the George Madden Boughton Prize, the Warren P. Laird Award, the William M. Mehlhorn Scholarship, and the Van Alen Traveling Fellowship. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Civil Engineering from Stanford University.

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